Discussion of RV parking restrictions to resume in Crestwood Tuesday

By Mike Anthony

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen is scheduled to resume discussion of a proposed ordinance that would restrict the parking of recreational vehicles when it meets next week.

The Board of Aldermen will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, at City Hall, 1 Detjen Drive.

As proposed, the ordinance would require recreational vehicles, motorized construction vehicles and boats to be stored in an enclosed area or on an asphalt, concrete or paving-stone surface in the side or rear yard behind the front building line of a residence.

Furthermore, the ordinance proposes that such vehicle accessories as campers, camper shells, luggage racks or sports equipment racks must be stored in an enclosed area or attached to a licensed vehicle.

Aldermen discussed the proposed ordinance at length last week during a meeting attended by roughly 100 people.

The proposed ordinance includes a “grandfather” clause that would allow current recreational vehicle owners to register their vehicles with the city by Dec. 31 and not be subject to the parking restrictions. But at least four aldermen want to eliminate this provision, contending it would defeat the purpose of enacting such an ordinance. Other aldermen, however, questioned whether a need existed to adopt such restrictions.

Though no public hearing had been scheduled on the issue, Mayor Jim Robertson allowed residents to voice their views on the proposed restrictions in what frequently became a raucous debate during the Oct. 28 meeting.

Nearly 20 people spoke, with a dozen saying they are adamantly opposed to such restrictions, while four residents said they favored limiting the parking of recreational vehicles. Many of those who were opposed to the proposed restrictions noted they had contacted the city before moving to Crestwood to ensure no restrictions existed on the parking of recreational vehicles.

Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding said, “It’s my thought that our picture is a little skewed of this whole issue because of the lack of code enforcement in the past. Personally, I would like to see (City Administrator) Mr. (Don) Greer’s code enforcement idea, give it a year and see if we have those same pictures brought up to the board. Because in those pictures, for the most part, I saw things like trucks parked in the yard. I saw really a true lack of code enforcement. And there was that one boat. I would like to see that, at least six months to a year, give an honest addressing to this issue and see what happens from there.”

Ward 2 Alderman Gary Vincent later said, “I’m against the grandfather clause as it’s written. I think if we’re going to put a grandfather clause in, if we’re going to deal with this problem we ought to deal with it, not put it off ad infinitum for a lot of people who it’s an issue with. I wouldn’t be opposed to a grandfather for some period of time, a year, two years, something like that. But forever, or as long as they live in the house for some people, I don’ think that that’s appropriate. I also think there was some discussion about this and how this deals with other property maintenance issues, I think they’re separate and distinct.

“All these people have come here to hear what we have to say on this issue tonight so I think we ought to at least begin to deal with it tonight,” he said.

Ward 4 Alderman Tom Fagan agreed with Vincent that code enforcement and recreational vehicle parking are separate issues.

“… I would echo Alderman Vincent’s comments about the issue with enforcing the codes and code compliance is really independent of this issue to regulate the RVs,” he said. “If there’s a need to enforce the codes, which I think Crestwood has always taken the approach that hear no evil, see no evil. We don’t do anything unless somebody’s really complaining loudly and I frankly don’t agree with that approach. I think we need to take a proactive approach … But I think it’s separate and distinct from this issue with respect to the issue of RVs parking in our neighborhoods.”

Regarding the grandfathering, Fagan said, “… I am entirely opposed to no time limit. That defeats, like Alderman Vincent said, the entire concept of this and I think what it does is you’re really going to have a difficult time enforcing it even though we’re going to know who was here and who wasn’t …”

Ward 4 Alderman Pat Duwe said, “I do have a problem with the grandfathering with the no limitations on it. I think that there are RVs that are parked out in driveways and they will be there forever if we don’t put some kind of a limit on it.”

Ward 3 Alderman “Bernie” Alexander first had raised the issue of recreational vehicle parking during the “future issues” part of a board meeting earlier this year. She also was opposed to the grandfather clause.

“… The ordinance as presented to the board tonight — this evening — would grandfather current RV owners in the city and I submit that this clause should not be part of our ordinance because it perpetuates the situations that residents are complaining about now …,” she said.

“Our job as aldermen is to represent the people of Crestwood and I think everybody on this board seeks to fulfill that duty. Earlier this year, we all participated in a work session, which included a discussion of long-term goals for the city. One of those goals included safeguarding the appearance of our homes and neighborhoods and I believe a majority of the citizens that you represent would agree that this ordinance contributes to the achievement of that goal. I ask for your support in passing the ordinance without the grandfather clause, but with a grace period so alternative storage arrangements can be made,” she said.

Vincent later said, “… I consider RVs a luxury that nobody has to have. If you’re so poor, on Social Security, that you can’t afford to park it, then maybe you ought not to have one. A lot of communities, a lot of communities have these restrictions and owners of RVs park their RVs other places. I don’t see that as an issue at all. If you can afford to have one, then if the law in Crestwood says you can’t park it there, then you’re going to have to park it someplace else and if you can’t afford that, then you can sell it. Nobody’s going to die. Nobody’s going to starve. Nobody’s going to do anything drastic because they lose their RV. You can always go and rent one if you need one and you use it a couple of times a year. So I ….”

Robertson banged his gavel three times in response to an outburst by some residents. “This meeting will remain in order and decorous. No one’s insulting you. I think you owe him the same consideration,” the mayor said. “You may disagree with his point of view, I understand that. Everyone has a right to be heard. No one has the right to be agreed with, but please maintain order …”

Vincent continued, “To conclude, I don’t think that that’s a legitimate point that it’s going to cost people something to park the RVs away from their homes. I think it’s important for the city of Crestwood to improve what our streets look like to keep the property values high, to keep the resale values of our homes high and so I’m in favor of moving forward with this.”